by Mark R. Schneider

For most Americans the campus protests are now in the rear-view mirror. As clean-up crews finish removing the left over detritus from some 80 tent encampments, many Americans have been left shaking their heads. Older citizens, those brought up in the 1960s, are tempted to think “we’ve seen all this before.” But while some comparisons may be legitimate with the Vietnam era, the recent protests are nothing like those of the 1960s. Back then, the nation was mired in a ground war a continent away where nearly a half-million American troops were fighting and dying and with no end in sight. By the war’s end in 1973, over 58,000 of them would never come home. Right or wrong, students then were objecting to a war they felt America had no business being in.

Contrast this with contemporary protesters. Toward whom and for what cause has their umbrage been directed?  We don’t have to guess. Mere days after the October 7th massacre and kidnapping of Israeli civilians, organizers at the University of Washington were handing out flyers with graphics showcasing Hamas paragliders and calling for a Day of Resistance.  At NYU organized students began chanting, “There is only one solution, intifada revolution.” Nearby at Columbia they chanted, “We don’t want a two state. We want 48. We don’t want a two state. We want all of it.” While Jewish students were being warned to stay off campus, pampered protestors were seen screaming fealty to a terror organization: “Al-Qassamyou make us proud, kill another soldier now!”  We say justice, you say how. Burn Tel Aviv to the ground!”  Hamas, we love you.”  And finally, “We are Hamas!”  When questioned, many of these same demonstrators were found to betray a lack of even the most basic knowledge of Israeli/Arab history, politics, or geographic landmarks.


Useful idiots? The case can be made. For along with the ubiquitous BDS campus organizers, groups like Muslim Power Change (MPower), American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), and most notably, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) were enlisting students to foment campus mayhem. In its newsletter, The Written Resistance, SJP’s Editorial Board openly proclaimed, “We…are honored to be your comrades in this struggle…together, we will continue to dismantle the Zionist Project and the US Empire from within. Glory to the martyrs.”

These groups, however, could only succeed to the degree that students were already pre-conditioned to positively respond.  As PEW and other research groups have discovered, views about Hamas and Israel differ widely depending on age. Younger Americans are much more likely to shun Western values and align with antisemite views than older Americans, those educated before certain insidious ideas were seeded in the nation’s schools, ideas more formally known as Critical Theory.

Originating from the Marxist inspired Frankfurt School, Critical Theory sees society through the lens of competing power structures. It’s that grievance worldview that divides culture by oppressed or oppressor. A corollary principle is that a person’s self-claimed and intersecting spheres of victimhood confers upon them two almost irresistible benefits: 1) an unearned civic moral superiority, and 2), a release of responsibility from one’s personal failures. All is forgiven the self-identifying oppressed. It’s not your fault. This same malign logic applies to people groups. Since Palestinians are economically and militarily weaker than Israelis, they are both morally superior and free from fault as are the western students that identify with them.

Especially in the nation’s public schools, Critical Theory is rapidly replacing the Judeo-Christian worldview along with its derivative concepts, like the nuclear family, liberal democracy, and equal protection under law. Sex and Gender Theory, Critical Race Theory, Critical Legal Theory, Queer Theory…all stem from the same root. So does the idea of Settler Colonialism, the belief that Western civilization represents an ongoing system of power designed and maintained to oppress “indigenous” people groups, like today’s Palestinians. The guilty, of course, are Israel, the United States, and most of western Europe. College Students considered “privileged” under Critical Theory, which are most of them, feel pressured to self-identify with oppressed groups as a means of assuaging false guilt.

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Teaching curriculums based on this pedagogy are today the norm in the nation’s classrooms, such that students entering college are already pre-conditioned to mistrust and even despise their nation of origin. California’s Ethnic Studies curriculum, required for high school graduation, seeks to impart a “comprehensive understanding of how the role of imperialism, settler colonialism, decolonization, and genocide…contributed to the formation of the United States.” The widely discredited 1619 Project, similarly “seeks to reframe the country’s history” in the mold of Critical Theory. The National Council of Social Studies advances publications with titles like, “Now You Can’t Just Do Nothing; Unsettling the Settler Self within Social Studies Education.”

As practiced, Settler Colonialism applies only to Western based cultures. What’s the solution to this ongoing evil? Straight forward answers are illusive, but professors Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang argue that, “Decolonization is not a metaphor.” The suggestion being that we undo everything. Think “Year Zero.” As for actual critical thinking, given the left’s hegemony among elite college faculties, only the heartiest of independent minds are able to resist the constant diatribe of Critical Theory orthodoxy being fed them.

With the rise of Nazism in the 1930s, Frankfurt School members began shopping for a new home, which they found at Columbia University, not surprisingly at the behest of John Dewey, the father of Progressive Education. From there members fanned out to other prestigious institutions where they began quietly sowing Critical Theory doctrine. The campus harvest we’ve all just witnessed is but one predictable outcome of others that are certain to follow. Sadly, as the demonstrations slowly fade away so too will the public’s concern over their deeper meaning. What will not go away, at least in the near term, is the continued brainwashing of America’s future generations on a mass scale.